Nehemiah 9:29
And testifiedst against them, that thou mightest bring them again unto thy law: yet they dealt proudly, and hearkened not unto thy commandments, but sinned against thy judgments, (which if a man do, he shall live in them;) and withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
9:4-38 The summary of their prayers we have here upon record. Much more, no doubt, was said. Whatever ability we have to do any thing in the way of duty, we are to serve and glorify God according to the utmost of it. When confessing our sins, it is good to notice the mercies of God, that we may be the more humbled and ashamed. The dealings of the Lord showed his goodness and long-suffering, and the hardness of their hearts. The testimony of the prophets was the testimony of the Spirit in the prophets, and it was the Spirit of Christ in them. They spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and what they said is to be received accordingly. The result was, wonder at the Lord's mercies, and the feeling that sin had brought them to their present state, from which nothing but unmerited love could rescue them. And is not their conduct a specimen of human nature? Let us study the history of our land, and our own history. Let us recollect our advantages from childhood, and ask what were our first returns? Let us frequently do so, that we may be kept humble, thankful, and watchful. Let all remember that pride and obstinacy are sins which ruin the soul. But it is often as hard to persuade the broken-hearted to hope, as formerly it was to bring them to fear. Is this thy case? Behold this sweet promise, A God ready to pardon! Instead of keeping away from God under a sense of unworthiness, let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. He is a God ready to pardon.Thou gavest them saviours - See Judges 3:15 etc. 22. Moreover thou gavest them kingdoms and nations—that is, put them in possession of a rich country, of an extensive territory, which had been once occupied by a variety of princes and people.

and didst divide them into corners—that is, into tribes. The propriety of the expression arose from the various districts touching at points or angles on each other.

the land of Sihon, and the land of the king of Heshbon—Heshbon being the capital city, the passage should run thus: "the land of Sihon or the land of the king of Heshbon."

Which if a man do, he shall live in them; of which see on Leviticus 18:5 Ezekiel 20:11 Romans 10:5 Galatians 3:12.

Withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, i.e. would not submit to thy yoke, like stubborn oxen.

And testifiedst against them,.... By sending prophets to them, to admonish them of their sins, and remind them of their duty:

that thou mightest bring them again unto thy law; to regard it, and walk according it:

yet they dealt proudly; with an haughty air rejected the counsel of God:

and hearkened not unto thy commandments; yielded not obedience to them:

but sinned against thy judgments; transgressed his laws, which were so just, righteous, reasonable, and equitable:

which if a man do, he shall live in them; or by them, in the land of Canaan, see Leviticus 18:5,

and withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear; like oxen, that wriggle and struggle, and draw back, and will not admit the yoke upon them.

And testifiedst against them, that thou mightest bring them again unto thy law: yet they dealt proudly, and hearkened not unto thy commandments, but sinned against thy judgments, (which if a man do, he shall live in them;) and {g} withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not {h} hear.

(g) Which is a sign taken from oxen that shrink at the yoke or burden in Zec 7:11.

(h) When you admonished them by your prophets.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
29. The Stubbornness of Israel

29. testifiedst] Cf. 2 Kings 17:13, ‘Yet the Lord testified unto Israel and unto Judah, by the hand of every prophet, and of every seer.’

dealt proudly] Cf. Nehemiah 9:16.

which if a man do, he shall live in them] Quoted from Leviticus 18:5, as also in Ezekiel 20:11. Cf. Luke 10:28, ‘This do and thou shalt live.’

withdrew the shoulder] R.V. marg. ‘Heb. they gave a stubborn shoulder’. The metaphor of an ox refusing to submit to the yoke, as applied to Israel, who rejected the service of Jehovah, is familiar to us from Hosea 4:16; Zechariah 7:11.

hardened their neck] Cf. Nehemiah 9:17.

Verse 29. - Withdrew the shoulder. Compare Hosea 4:16 ("Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer") and Zechariah 7:11. The metaphor is taken from the action of a beast of burthen which, when required to draw, shrinks from the yoke and starts back. Nehemiah 9:29"And testifiedst against them, to bring them back again to Thy law; yet they hearkened not to Thy commandments, and sinned against Thy judgments, which if a man do he shall live in them, and gave a resisting shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear. Nehemiah 9:30 And Thou didst bear with them many years, and didst testify against them by Thy Spirit through Thy prophets; but they would not hearken, therefore Thou gavest them into the hand of the people of the lands. Nehemiah 9:31 Nevertheless in Thy great mercy Thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for Thou art gracious and merciful."

Nehemiah 9:29 and Nehemiah 9:30 treat of the times of the kings. בּהם ותּעד is the testimony of the prophets against the idolatrous people; comp. Nehemiah 9:26. וּבמשׁפּטיך is emphatically prefixed, and taken up again by בּם. The sentence, which if a man do he shall live in them, is formed upon Leviticus 18:5, comp. Ezekiel 20:11. On the figurative expression, they gave a resisting shoulder, comp. Zechariah 7:11. The simile is taken from the ox, who rears against the yoke, and desires not to bear it; comp. Hosea 4:16. The sentences following are repeated from Nehemiah 9:16. עליהם תּמשׁך is an abbreviated expression for חסד משׁך, Psalm 36:11; Psalm 109:12; Jeremiah 31:3, to draw out, to extend for a long time favour to any one: Thou hadst patience with them for many years, viz., the whole period of kingly rule from Solomon to the times of the Assyrians. The delivering into the power of the people of the lands, i.e., of the heathen (comp. Psalm 106:40.), began with the invasion of the Assyrians (comp. Nehemiah 9:32), who destroyed the kingdom of the ten tribes, and was inflicted upon Judah also by means of the Chaldeans.

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